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Petron seeks victory No. 3

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RENALDO Balkman of Petron (No. 32) continues to be one of the benchmarks for imports this conference. PBA IMAGES/NUKI SABIO

Playing according to its powerhouse tag in the last two games, Petron Blaze seeks a third straight win today when it clashes with off-form Meralco in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Game time is 7:30 p.m. with the odds favoring the Boosters enormously, more so with the Bolts reeling from two straight losses.

Talk ‘N Text, meanwhile, tests Globalport’s newfound brilliance in the 5:15 p.m. curtain-raiser.

Renaldo Balkman has stepped up to be the barometer among imports this early in the tournament, and the National Basketball Association veteran will be taking a 34-point, 10-rebound effort into the Boosters’ clash with the Bolts.

Agile and very athletic for an import of his size, Balkman put on a dunking clinic when the Boosters destroyed sister squad Barangay Ginebra on Sunday, and the lack of a reliable big man to defend Balkman will be Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio’s main concern.

Eric Dawson was one of the better imports during the pre-tournament but has had a hard time in Meralco’s first three games. And if Gregorio asks him to defend Balkman and score at the same time, then it could prove taxing for the Bolts.

Big men June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos and Jay Washington will also be coming off big games and Petron also has one of the better rounded guard rotations in the field which Gregorio would have to counter.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Petron coach Olsen Racela said when asked if his Boosters are peaking at the right time. “We need to come out with a lot of energy and intensity every game. We need to have consistency.”

Meanwhile, the Tropang Texters, second placers to idle San Mig Coffee here last year, is also another rock-solid side that has awoken.

With Keith Benson at the firing end, the Texters are given the slight edge in their matchup with the Batang Pier, who are having a great 2-1 start behind import Justin Williams.


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